Himalayan Art Resources

Subject: Hats (Karma Kagyu)

Hats (Religious Traditions)

Subjects, Topics & Types:
- Description (below)
- Karma Kagyu Hats Outline
- Pandita Hat
- Gampopa Hat
- Black Hat Karmapa
- Red Hat Karmapa (Shamar)
- Tsurphu Gyaltsab
- Nenang Pawo
- Karma Trinlepa
- Kenting Tai Situ
- Tsatsa Drubgon
- Black Hats & Blue Hats
- Miscellaneous Kagyu Hats
- Karma Kagyu Main Page
- Confusions: Black Hats
- Others...

- Karma Kagyu Hats
- White Hat of Tsatsa Drubgon

The special hats of the Karma Kagyu tradition are generally in the cap style of hat. With the most famous being the black hat of Karmapa followed by the red hat of thew Shamarpa. The Tsurphu Gyaltsab and the the Tai Situ both have a similar red hat to Shamarpa. There are differences in the ornamentation on the front and sides to distinguish them one from the other. However, artists are not always knowledgeable about the subtle differences between the dominantly red hats. The Nenang Pwo was said to have a green speckled hat and it is unclear as to the description of the hat of the Karma Trinleypa. The Tsatsa Drubgon of Lingtsang, Kham, wears a white hat almost identical to the black hat of Karmapa.

The Karma Kagyu employ both the traditional pandita hat which is typically red and pointed at the top and the Gampopa hat which is in the fan-like style. The colour is not fixed and can appear in a variety of shades. The point at the top can be gentle or steep. Sometimes the top of the hat looks like a nipple or a cow's teat as with the examples of the hats of Jamgon Kongtrul.

Recognizing the hats of Tibetan teachers is the most important key to identifying the different religious traditions in paintings and identifying individual figures in art. Both a general and an intimate knowledge of hats is an essential tool in the study of Buddhist iconography.

Jeff Watt, 10-2020

(The images below are only a selection of examples from the links above).